Saturday, February 26, 2011

Child's Play?

I've spent a fair bit of time and energy on colour in the past few weeks: getting hold of just the right tube of paint; blending and adjusting to make a balanced mixture; carefully keeping my jar of rinsing water and brushes clean . . . Now I've been seized by a contrary spirit. I decided to buy the cheapest set of primary colours in the kids' craft section of a clearance warehouse. A quick circle on white paper, a jar of water and a paintbrush and the "primary" experiment was ready to go: I started with yellow--nice! Red was next: the name on the tube is "scarlet". That gave me the predicted bright red. So far, so good. Mixing the red and yellow gave me a clear orange. Now blue. It seemed to be a pretty good match to the colour stipulated for my adult art class. Mixing blue and yellow gave me a green which would happily serve as grass in a child's masterpiece. OK here's the catch. Blue and red make purple, right? Not here they don't. All I could manage was grey. Any amount of red and blue I tried had the same sort of result. I can only imagine the disappointment of a child feeling as if they've failed the art lesson. From my adult perspective I'll be glad to include this little experiment in my lesson on tertiary colours. There's evidently a fair bit of yellow in both the red and blue paints. So blending the two is really like blending the three primary colours: blue, red and yellow. My colour theory tells me that should make grey-black. Pretty much right!

Having got that out of my system, it's back to the assigned homework: mixing tertiary colours and stitching tints and shades of primaries. But first, I think another coffee and perhaps a little chocolate to help me regain my equilibrium.

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